Domain-specific narrative recall and embodied cognition

Students (n = 90) were assigned to hold either warm or cold therapeutic pads, and then wrote an essay about a past academic experience. Analysis using Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) revealed that participants who held warm pads used significantly more affect words (t(47) = 2.24, p = .03), and slightly more words indicating cognitive complexity (t(47) = 1.74, p = .08), than who held cold pads. Participants who subsequently chose to receive information about graduate school used more affect words in their essays (β = .31, p = .08). Thus, holding a warm pad seems to have induced participants to view their academic experiences more "warmly," recalling them with more emotional and cognitive depth, and that depth was related to behavioral indicators of academic motivation. These findings suggest the malleability and context-sensitivity of memory for academic experiences, and also validate the use of LIWC as a predictor of behavior.